Church communities boost efforts to lower African-Americans’ blood pressure, study finds

Dr. Joseph Ravenell, associate professor of population health and medicine at the New York University School of Medicine, also saw the benefit of the lay health advisers. Although recent successful community-based methods have used counselors with doctorates and have focused on medication, Ogedegbe’s study emphasizes the need for other approaches.

The study “supports the notion that non-clinicians based in the community can be effective messengers for healthful behavior change in blacks with high blood pressure,” said Ravenell, who was not involved in the new research.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April found that placing health educators in barbershops in Los Angeles led to 63.6% of participants lowering their blood pressure to a healthy level. This showed how the combination of health promotion by community figures such as the barbers, combined with the use of medication, could have health benefits.

Ravenell also praised the latest study for its setting and its focus on the need for lifestyle changes in black adults with high blood pressure, which he described as “an important cornerstone of therapy for high blood pressure that is both underappreciated and under-studied in black populations.”